By DON WALLACE
News-Telegram Sports Editor
For eight days the Wildcats have been working out and doing football drills in the early morning.
Today - they get the brutal Texas heat with their first afternoon workouts.
Sulphur Springs coaches are participating in training the remainder of the week, so workouts will begin at 4 p.m.
The average temperature for workouts at 8 a.m. has been around 74 degrees. Odds are the temp at 4 p.m. will be at least 20 degrees warmer.
The coaches and players have a focus this week with a scrimmage set Friday at Texarkana, against Liberty-Eylau.
The scrimmage is at Harris Field, the JV-9th starting at 5 p.m., varsity at 6:30 p.m.
The Leopards might have a new trick or two up their sleeves under new head coach Steve Wells. Wells, the co-offensive coordinator last year, was promoted to head coach in March after Brian Brown took the head coaching job at Red Oak High School.
Wells, has a 44-45 record overall as a head coach with stops in Hooks, Mineola and Jacksonville.
Wells was at the helm in Jacksonville when the Indians were nipped 56-52 by Sulphur Springs in the playoff action Nov. 11, 2010 in Rose Stadium.
Last year in scrimmage action vs. the Wildcats - the Leopards used a pistol formation and recorded three scores.
The highlight from last year’s meeting for Sulphur Springs was the defense forcing five turnovers.
This year again, it should be an interesting meeting. Liberty-Eylau is picked to win District 7-4A, DI, despite returning just five starters. They have 123 players out for football in grades 9-12.
The Leopards went 6-5 last year, losing in the bi-district round. They have returning running backs Donelle Hoof (5-7, 165) and D.Q. Steels (5-9. 175) who each rushed for more than 600 yards in 2013.
Sulphur Springs has been practicing basic formations and not geared up for a new foe.
“We are doing base things, reviewing formations. We have not put in anything for Liberty-Eylau,” said Greg Owens head football coach.
Defensive coordinator Triston Abron knows the Leopards will provide a needed challenge for the Wildcats.
“Liberty-Eylau has speed and good athletes. They have been fielding teams like that since the 90s,” Abron said. “I’ve learned first hand what to expect from them. They are good year in and year out. They make you pay when you make a mistake. This will be a good test for us.”
The Leopards defense also causes concern at the Wildcat face their first foe of the football campaign.
“L-E is so fast. It you don’t do things right, they can embarrass you,” said Matt Young, Sulphur Springs offensive coordinator. “They’re fast and athletic.”
Wildcat coaches all agree that the squad is ready for the upcoming action Friday.
“We’re ready to hit someone else,” said Jeremy Offutt Wildcat offensive line coach. “We’ve been putting in the work. Our goal is to get better every day.”
The Wildcats come into the scrimmage with 22 returning lettermen from last year’s 8-4 area finalist team.
Football drills this season show 60 players out for freshmen football with 40-45 players on the junior varsity and the same amount participating in varsity football.
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